Did your heart sink when you read that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is setting up a new House committee to investigate President Trump in the midst of a pandemic?
Just what a weary nation reeling from an unprecedented crisis needs. Another investigation.
Here is how Ms. Pelosi describes her latest endeavor:
“It would have subpoena power that’s for sure. It’s no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday during a teleconference call with reporters. “And we would hope that there would be cooperation because this is not a kind of an investigation of the administration it’s about the whole [response].”
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., will chair the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The committee will be bipartisan, she said, with Democrats and GOP members appointed.
Bipartisan? Who’s she fooling?
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will investigate how the $2 trillion from the latest rescue bill is being spent. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pointed out that there are oversight provisions built into the bill.
McCarthy also shared his concern about the appointment of Rep. James Clyburn, who had said that the pandemic offers an opportunity to “restructure” things in line with the goals of the Democratic Party.
With this in mind, the Wall Street Journal explains how the investigation is likely to be conducted. In an editorial headlined “Coronavirus Recriminations Come First,” the editorial board writes:
“Where there’s money there’s also frequently mischief,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “We want to make sure there are not exploiters out there.”
Some Members of Mrs. Pelosi’s caucus think that every corporation is an “exploiter” of one kind or another. Their goal will not be to protect federal dollars but to highlight unpopular companies that get a grant or loan and then claim it’s the result of political favoritism. The only question is which ones will become the next Halliburton (Dick Cheney during Iraq) or Koch brothers (all-purpose villains).
One of the most noticeable aspects in the fight against the virus is that the private sector by and large stepped up in a big way. Many of these public-spirited companies will no doubt be suspect in the eyes of Ms. Pelosi’s Select Committee.
If Ms. Pelosi’s Select Committee doesn’t fill you with dread of the inevitable acrimony it will create, Rep. Adam Schiff of Impeachment fame is launching a 911 commission-style board to assess the response to the pandemic.
An objective review afterwards is necessary and likely—we need to prepare for any future emergency—but why do I suspect there are better men or women for the job than Schiff?
The pandemic is a test of character for all of us. Kimberley Strassel points out in her Wall Street Journal today that it is a very public test for our politicians. Strassel writes:
Nothing separates the shallow from the serious faster than high-stakes moments. At the federal level, Americans are seeing the serious in the White House task force briefings that provide daily updates on the government’s actions.
When this is all over, we will find that the federal response was far from perfect. But we’ll also see that once the executive branch grasped the enormity of the problem, it moved with soberness, speed and a spirit of cooperation.
Some of Ms. Pelosi’s party have responded well “proving that neither party has a monopoly on character,” says Strassel. Governor Gavin Newsome of California resisted CNN’s Jake Tapper egging him on to make nasty remarks about President Trump. Instead Newsom thanked the administration, adding, “The virus doesn’t attack and kill red Americans or blue Americans—it attacks all Americans.” Strassel comments:
Contrast this with Mrs. Pelosi, who seems to view the pandemic as one big political opportunity. She held up last week’s relief bill for days, attempting to cram into it unrelated election and climate provisions. She used a Sunday CNN appearance to accuse Mr. Trump of killing Americans. This week she announced a new special House committee that will “examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus” and will have subpoena power. This is yet the latest Democratic machinery for investigating Trump and ginning up scandals.